WAVERLY — When building any unit, a coach needs student-athletes who play for the love of the game, play for a cause that’s bigger than themselves, and play for the name on the front of the jersey as well as the number on the back.
In Waverly’s Hailey Robinson, the Shawnee State softball program is getting a student-athlete who is dedicated to the entire mindset of what being a competitive student-athlete is all about.
Robinson, a multiple-time honoree in one of the strongest conferences — top-to-bottom — from a softball standpoint in Ohio in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II, will join the Bears after spending a season pitching at Spoon River College in Canton, Ill.
She’ll have three seasons to play for SSU, beginning with the spring 2021 campaign.
For the sophomore, the opportunity to return to a community that sits just 40 minutes from home — as opposed to playing over seven hours away — is an idea that thrills the former Waverly High School standout.
“I’m thrilled about being closer to home, especially with everything that’s going on right now,” Robinson said. “I wanted my family to be able to come to my games, and I missed seeing them in the stands cheering for me. I also liked the softball environment at Shawnee State.”
At Waverly, Robinson drastically improved from her freshman campaign to her senior season, ultimately earning the SOC II’s Pitcher of the Year award in a conference stacked with future college talent — such as fellow SSU teammates Sydney Spence, Madison Sifford, Brittani Wolfenbarker and Laiken Rice, along with Georgetown (Ky.) pitcher Sarah Claxon, Rio Grande-bound Christen Risner, and her teammate and sister, Hannah Robinson, who signed with Ball State out of high school.
In addition to becoming the SOC II Pitcher of the Year and a first-team all-league honoree as a result, Robinson was also twice named to the Division II all-Southeast District team — collecting second-team honors as a junior in 2018 and moving up to a first-team honoree in 2019.
She balanced her three-sport talents while serving in Rotary Interact, Leo Club, and Waverly’s National Honor Society — the latter as part of her strong GPA and test scores.
Following that span, Robinson moved on to Spoon River, where the incoming freshman not only earned a spot in the circle for the Snappers, but led the pitching staff in essentially every meaningful category — including wins (seven), ERA (1.72), innings pitched (40-and-two-thirds) and strikeouts (63).
The freshman also led Spoon River with the lowest amounts of hits allowed (24), runs allowed (15) and earned runs allowed (10), despite pitching at least 14-and-a-third more innings than any other player on the staff.
As a result of recording two shutout victories against Shawnee (Ill.) and Jefferson (Mo.), she was named the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 19 — after going 2-0 with 18 strikeouts between both contests.
“I loved playing at Waverly and Spoon River,” Robinson said. “My coaches, teammates and the environments that I played in were all amazing. It was something special to be a part of with both teams. We all loved the game and enjoyed playing together. We always wanted to see each other succeed on and off of the field. I will definitely miss playing for both Waverly and Spoon River. I believe that Shawnee State will be a good fit for me. I’m excited to be closer to home so my family and friends can watch my games. I think that it will be a fun season playing with girls that I’ve played against in high school and travel ball.”
In addition to her softball exploits with both programs, Robinson also played basketball and volleyball for Waverly.
Robinson earned second-team all-SOC honors in volleyball — after notching 219 digs, 76 kills and 33 aces in her senior year for the 19-5 Tigers — and was a key member of the rotation for Waverly on the hardwood.
“We were all competitive for the most part,” Robinson said. “We loved being around each other and we had good team chemistry. We supported one another at our different sporting events when we weren’t playing the same sport at the time.”
With Robinson back in familiar territory, the nursing major simply wants to use her academic and athletic talents to showcase the area — while helping the SSU softball program grow as a whole.
“Academically, I want to earn my degree in nursing and make personal connections with my peers and professors,” Robinson said. “Athletically, I want to see the team succeed and succeed on a personal level as well. I want to be the best that I possibly can on and off of the field, not only for myself, but for my teammates and community.”
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.